The majority of us at true faith were in the away end at Bournemouth on Saturday.  If you’ve read the match report or listened to the podcast hopefully we’ve managed to capture the joy created by Matt Ritchie’s late, late equaliser.  It’s why we bother travelling 350 miles each way to watch a mostly average football team play.

Seven fans in the away end didn’t get home that night as they were arrested for entering the field of play after the equaliser.  One fourteen year old was held for 20 hours in police custody before CCTV could prove a steward actually dragged him onto the field of play.  I’m sure the lad in question can handle himself but I can think back to being 14 and what an ordeal it would be to be celebrating an equaliser and then being behind bars for a night.

Fans shouldn’t enter the field of play.  We all know it.  It’s stupid.  That’s all it is.  The law against entering the field of play is there rightly to protect players and officials.  We’ve seen ridiculous scenes in recent weeks in Birmingham and Edinburgh of those laws being broken and the idiots involved rightly facing prosecution.  This isn’t that.

This is celebrating a goal for a matter of seconds and there being unjust consequences that could have a lifetime of ramifications in the forms of banning orders or criminal records.  When United equalised there was a huge surge forwards in the away end with loads running down the stairs to the players who ran over to the away fans to celebrate.  People fell forwards over chairs.  It’s not that uncommon (it’s also not safe, and the obvious solution is safe standing) for people to be moved with the crowd and hundreds ran towards the players.  A few lads spilled onto the pitch in jubilation and they shouldn’t have.

Being arrested as a criminal is not a just punishment for what has happened here.  While we at true faith are grateful to police and stewards up and down the country for keeping peace and order at 99% of games they work at, who hasn’t been the victim of over zealous policing at a football match as an away fan. Off the top of my head I can recall a fan asking a policeman not to film him at Boro away 2010, sticking his fingers up at the cameras and immediately  being rugby tackled by another officer and put in a headlock before being put in a police van.  I have no idea what happened to him.

Right now we can make a difference though and make as much noise as possible to see these seven mags given the best possible legal support in their battle for justice. We don’t know the names of the people in question or if they’re upstanding citizens.  Everyone is innocent until proved guilty and these fans are the same.

We welcome the campaign by the NUST to raise funds for the fans to get travel costs paid for (court dates have been set for Dorset) and the £500 required for a football case lawyer for the trials.

We know that the Trust has been working with the families of the accused and would urge you to back the campaign.

To donate to the campaign:

https://www.gofundme.com/legal-fees-for-mags-arrested-at-bournemouth

Join NUST:

Full Membership